Meet the Team: Dr. Lawlor

Hi! I’m Dr. Orion Lawlor, and I love robots!  I’m an assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and have helped Dr. Bogosyan set up the CYBER-Alaska project since the basic idea back in 2009.

Facts about Dr. Lawlor:

  • Grew up in Glennallen, Alaska eating moosemeat and salmon, and donating blood to mosquitos.
  • In a construction frenzy during the summer of 2009, built a 2,000 square foot shop with help from his dad Tom.
  • Can weld with stick, MIG, or gas; cast aluminum, zinc, or urethane; cut steel on a manual mill or CNC lathe; and drive heavy equipment… all without leaving his driveway!

I’ve worked on a lot of different computer hardware and robotics projects over the years:

  • In 2009 through today, I worked with a really broad array of students building a solar powered robot to drive around Greenland.  We’re still waiting on NSF funding for the full build, but work continues on this project in my spare time.
  • In 2007, 2008, and 2010, I worked with some great students building underwater robots for the worldwide MATE ROV contest.   I used ever more complex PIC microcontrollers for this project: in 2007 I used a network of 16F676 chips running software serial code, in 2008 I upgraded to the PICkit 2 programmer and 16F690 chip for more pins and hardware serial communication, and in 2010 I used the 18F2455 for direct onboard USB.
  • In the early 2000’s, I wrote usb_pickit, the first open-source driver for the PICkit 1 programmer.  I learned a lot about hardware, including how to laser print and iron on printed circuit boards.
  • Back in 1998, I soldered together an ISA card by hand, to collect analog data at a higher rate than I could get over a serial line.  The card actually still works, although the ISA slot is so old, I can only plug it into an equally ancient machine!

My “day job” is writing software and building high performance simulations, so I’m excited to combine my fabrication, electronics, and software experience to build cutting-edge systems!

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